While writing BotRE, I knew I wanted a single Human kingdom in my game. This will be included as a point crawl area in the book. GM’s are feel to ignore Nukatomi Plaza if they want to go with a more Thundarr feel, but I know some groups (mine included) like having at least one urban area to go to, should they want a change of pace from wilderness exploring.
The Nukatomi Plaza
This massive arcology was constructed in Los Angeles before the world fell and was the headquarters for the Nukatomi Corporation as well as a source of commerce, residence, and government offices and was completed in the year 1987. The remaining records left on the few Ancient Earth computers that work tell the scribes that much.
Now, in the Ruined Earth, the Nukatomi Plaza is the only known kingdom of humanity. This two hundred story tower stretches high into the skyline of the ruins of Los Angel, its windows gleam in the light of the red-tinted sky. The plaza is capable of housing over 150,000 people comfortably, but no one really knows the current population.
Every ten floors are considered a “block” and are overseen by a gang, elected official, dictator, or some other form of representative. All convene on the top floor where they report and pay tribute to Lightning Jack, who sits on his high-backed metal throne and amasses power and plots machinations.
Nukatomi Plaza is a place of opportunity. Some blocks are clean with electricity, medical care, and education. Others are dark, fetid, and dangerous; gang violence, murder, and drugs are the orders of the day. While there is competition between blocks, that sometimes turns into violence, outright war is illegal and not tolerated by Lightning Jack and punishment is met out by his Sparkers. Trade is active between most of the blocks, for each has something the other needs or wants, however sometimes the price is just too high, and taking by force is a better option.
The first floor of the plaza houses a large bazaar where the different blocks and traveling caravans sell their wares, ply their trades, and seek needed goods in ramshackle tents. A few food shops, taverns, and a few organizations can be found here as well. Lightning Jack’s Sparkers have a constant presence here, making sure no one steps out of line, causes too much trouble, or goes against any of Lighting Jack’s decrees.
Sorcery is not tolerated in Nukatomi Plaza, and most peaceful Sorcerers tend to avoid this place. Many of the citizens of Nukatomi have been under the tyranny of a Sorcerer at one point or another. Those Sorcerers that do enter the plaza are met with distrust, hatred, and outright violence.
Immediately outside Nukatomi Plaza are the grand garages, where motor gangs repair their vehicles, and pay a high price for fuel and parts. Near the garages are several farms, where slaves and indentured servants toil tirelessly to provide food for the plaza. Many of these people are criminals, exiles, or someone who owes Lightning Jack in some fashion or another.
The ruins of Los Angel surround the plaza and are filled with small pockets of settlers, scavengers, bands of raiders, and twisted, dangerous creatures. Treasure, useful trinkets, and even Stupendous Science devices can be found by a keen eye and dedicated scavenger in the rubble of the Ancient Earth city, not to mention all the grand devices and treasure from the remains of an epic Wizard’s War which occurred in the ruins of Los Angel over a thousand years ago.
Give each block a theme/feel, create a leader (or group of leaders), and give the block an interesting location/thing, and a problem for the players to discover.
Some sample blocks are listed below.
|1||Rumble Block: This block is governed through brute force and resembles a feudal system more than anything else. People are forced to do dangerous work to eat and survive with little or no compensation. The block is filthy, has no electricity, and smells of vegetation, fertilizer, and mildew. Leader: Klicks is angry, vicious, and heavily scarred. Klicks leads with brutal control and will not tolerate any challenge to their authority. Hates beastmen and Sorcerers. A group of enforcers go throughout block to bully and oversee Klicks’ will. Interesting Thing: The Pit- There is a fighting pit where Klicks forces his people to fight in bloody romps. Some fights go too far and a participant dies. Interesting Problem: Recently Klicks mother was poisoned and died. Klicks already tenuous grasp on reality has been stretched. He fears assassination plots from within his own block and is gearing to go to war at the slightest provocation from the other blocks.|
|2||Healer’s Ward: This block has decent medical care and oftentimes gets people from other blocks coming for aid. The block is decently clean and kept in repair, has electricity, and smells of aromatic cleaning agents. Leader: Finder has keen and sharp eyes. Finder has been a scavenger of the Ruined Earth for as long as anyone can remember. Much of the medical devices/technology and knowledge that are applied on this block are found on during excursions into the ruins of Los Angel. Finder is shy and quiet, preferring solitude over large gatherings. Interesting Thing: A bowling ball-sized chunk of the moon is worshipped as a cosmic being. Many of the people of Healer’s Ward believe the rock speaks to them in their mind and glows when they prey to it. Interesting Problem: Recently one of the Healer’s Rooms was ransacked for medicinal supplies. The Healer’s family was knocked unconscious and swears they didn’t see who did it. The Healer was killed, a scalpel in their head.|
|3||Zang’s House: Gang violence, drugs, and other illicit trade is the order of the day on this block. Many of the thugs are good with mechanical parts and tend to venture out into the ruins on Ancient Earth vehicles in search of scrap and parts. Sparks pop and fly from metal working, engine parts line the hallways, and it smells like oil. Leader: Zang is a ruthless cutthroat who took over this block years ago and has remained on top ever since. Zang has a gang of thugs who oversee drug manufacturing on the block and distribute to other blocks and caravans. Interesting Location: The Smoke Den- this den if ill-repute is a haven for those wishing to escape the harsh reality of the Ruined Earth. Drugs, digital entertainment, and distractions of the flesh are all to be found in the Smoke Den. Interesting Problem: One of Zang’s new drugs, called the Purple Eye, has become tainted and instead of putting the user into a lethargic, serene state, it causes them to become irate, violent, and stronger than normal. Zang wants to know who ruined his drugs and exact revenge. Unfortunately, Zang is still selling the drug, regardless of its effects.|
|4||The Growers Block: The block grows food, either by assisting the farms in the ruins below, or through the baskets they have constructed to hang on the outside of the plaza. They collect water in large basins and store it, willing to trade the needed resource for other goods. The block is dirty, with heaps of dirt and fertilizer are piled into the halls, has no electricity, and smells of vegetation and fertilizer. Leader: Red Eye has a cybernetic eye with red lens which was forcibly put in by a Sorcerer when younger. Red Eye is quiet and terse, but will not abide by bullying or violence against their people. Interesting Location: The Alien Garden- A large greenhouse was built on this block and the dirt used to fill the pots was alien in origin. The result is a large, beautiful garden with bizarre alien flowers, trees, and other vegetation. Some is actually incredibly dangerous, like the Life Leech Plant, which drains the life force of those that get too close. Interesting Problem: Heathens and thugs from another block (or perhaps several) are harassing the Growers Block, threatening violence if the growers do not relinquish more food to them.|
|5||Halo Block: The block has several bits of working Ancient Earth tech that they use to make medicine and drugs that are traded throughout the plaza and sent on caravans. Many of the people of this block are taught to read and write (whether they want to learn or not) so they can help create concoctions that will get the block coins, favors, stature with Lightning Jack, or needed goods. The block is clean, has computers and is lined with lab benches with people hunched over working. The block smells clean and sterile and has working electricity. Leader: The Observer leads this block with cold calculated efficiency. Time cards, whistles, calculations, rhythms and flow all govern the actions of the citizens of this block to make sure the highest level of output is achieved. Those who are unable to deliver enough often find themselves exiled out of the plaza or left, hog-tied, in a less desirable block. Interesting Location: The Chop Shop- The Observer has created a cybernetic shop that will replace people’s organic bits with cold, efficient technology. No one knows how The Observer obtained this piece of Stupendous Science, but many feel it is a cause of concern. Interesting Problem: An explosion rips through a large portion of a floor of the block. Several people are injured and killed. The Observer is sure that this is the work of a Sorcerer who was after Stupendous Science devices and other supplies that can only be obtained on the block.|
|6||Park Block: Area has become overgrown by plants and vegetation. Rumors have it that it was the work of a magical ritual gone wrong. The citizens here live, because there is no choice, in a balance with the nature of the block. There is no electricity on this block, and the sounds of birds and small wildlife greets the ears. Leader: Vin is an agile youth that took up the mantle of leader due to no other alternative after the previous leader was killed by Lightning Jack. Vin has made many mistakes attempting to lead the Park Block, the growing pains of learning, but the citizens of the block are accepting of these mistakes, desperately hoping Vin can make everyone’s lives a little better. Interesting Things: A large tree grows in the block, and no matter how much is trimmed from the tree, it grows back within a couple days. The inhabitants of this block treat the tree with some reverence and caution, for they have come to depend on the almost never-ending supply of wood, but wonder what the cost of this miracle will be. Interesting Problem: Whatever sorcery that has created this strange phenomenon to manifest on this block also occasionally allows terrifying monstrosities to appear. A predatorial hybrid animal (pg XX) stalks the inhabitants, taking prey in the dead of the night.|
|7||Feral Block: This block is decorated with animal pelts, heads, and other animalistic pieces of art. The people of this block wear animal skins and pelts and heads. They believe they can channel the animal’s spirit. Ferals are usually hired out as protection on excursions into the Ruined Earth. Leader: Guard Dog believes in the order of the pack and deals with problems and challenges to their authority in a vicious fashion. Guard Dog cares for the citizens of their block, for they are the pack, and will not tolerate violence against them. Feral’s are usually at war with at least one other block due to some perceived slight. Interesting Location: The Celebration Hall- A large area has been created for Ferals to come together to party and gorge themselves on drink and food. Many Ferals will sleep together here in a large gathering of bodies pressed together, like a pack of wolves. Interesting Problem: A splinter faction of Ferals has formed and are challenging the ways of the block and the leadership of Guard Dog. The block is nearing a state of civil war and other blocks are worried the violence will spill into their territory.|
|8||The Slums: This block is a haven for hoarders, scavengers, and riff raff. Junk is piled high throughout the halls and rooms. There is electricity on this block, but it shorts out from time to time. The block smells stale- of sweat, dirt, and hardship. The citizens of this block work hard and play hard. They constantly venture into the ruins of Los Angel (and some even further) to find valuable treasures. Leader: Tinker Tot is an eccentric and eclectic leader. Playful and joyous, but able to fly into a storming rage without warning, then back to being playful just as quickly. Tinker Tot loves fiddling with gizmos and gadgets. The halls of the Slums are filled with Tinker Tot’s devices- some work, some don’t. Interesting Location: The Sloppy Noodle Shop- Known as one of the most delicious food joints in many blocks. The noodle shop is run by an ancient and withered Vek called Ren. Interesting Problem: One of Tinker Tot’s devices works too well and has caused a rift to open in realty, connecting another dimension to this one. What sort of beings will come through? What will happen if someone travels through?|